Fulfilling the mission requires turbo charging the tradition
PEORIA – Rev. Jorge Acevedo makes a disclaimer: Don’t expect that doing what his church has done will result in another Grace church.
“It is much more than just doing,” Acevedo said in his second presentation. “It is about turbo-charging the tradition given to us by John Wesley who took it off the pages of Scripture and made it practical for the 18th century. Our task is to look for ways to move that mark 350 years forward to the 21st century.”
The four steps necessary to accomplish the task of applying Wesleyan practice to the 21st century requires:
- Self leadership. Wesley taught, ““O begin! Fix some part of every day for private exercises. You may acquire the taste which you have not; what is tedious at first will afterwards be pleasant. Whether you like it or not, read and pray daily. It is for your life; there is no other way: else you will be a trifler all your days. Do justice to your own soul; give it time and means to grow. Do not starve yourself any longer.“Part of our rich tradition is that we take responsibility for our self leadership,” Acevedo said. “How is it with your soul? Are you abiding in Christ? You cannot take people to places you have never been. It is also accountability. How is it in your ministry? Are you abounding in the work of the Lord?”
- Organizing to beat the devil. One of Wesley’s legacies is an alignment of the grace we receive with connecting that grace to others. “Grace uses a process: reach, connect, form and send,” Acevedo said. "Wesley used united societies, class meetings and bands as the structure, which connected with the prevenient, justifying and sanctifying grace. Our job is helping people to discover that God loves them," Acevedo said. "There are also some folks every Sunday that need to hear that Jesus still saves."
- Weaving together personal piety and social holiness. It's not either/or; it's both/and. Author Jim Collins in Built to Last said the difference between an A-plus company and others is that "they are able to embrace the genius of the AND instead of the tyranny of the OR." "If we are Methodists, if we stand in the stream, we care about your soul but we also care about the here and now," Acevedo said. "Some of us have an ediface complex where we are more focused on building than about lost people. We have had more persons that come to Christ through our recovery ministries than on Sunday morning."
- A priority of ministry to the poor, the marginalized and the addicted. The target population of the entire Methodist system was “the dregs of English society,” some of whom had serious social dysfunctions. The primary goal of the penitent band was to restore its members to the mainstream of society and its regular channels of growth. "At Grace Church, we do aid (stopping the bleeding and immediate need), advancement (from dependency to independence and empowerment) and advocacy (changing the conditions of poverty and address the injustices) in our ministry with the poor," Acevedo said.